Rendered Fat Content


Orazio Gentileschi: David Contemplating the Head of Goliath (c. 1610)
" … it's absolute magic!"

I'll call the Second Station of the Authoring Cross Você [pronounced Voe Che], because it mostly deals with the Author's manner of speaking. The writer writes while the Author shapes. The writer creates rough approximations in relative isolation, each piece produced in absence of any broader context. Once the writer completes the pieces, the Author can set to aligning those chunks into a more continuous whole. Você becomes primary among the various elements of this aligning process because it's the subtlest piece and also the one most easily noticed as absent. The voice the reader finds speaking out of the page must be recognizable, not different from chapter to chapter, beginning from end. Further, the Você stands above and beside the story and serves as the medium within which whatever story gets told. It's often best when as innocuous as the almost still and silent voice each of us knows as our own internal one, our conscience, if you will. Whatever the Author chooses as the work's Você, aligning and preserving that timbre might be the underlying purpose of the so-called Proofing pass, which superficially seems to mostly focus upon spelling and ridding the draft of dangling participles.

A great editor can preserve and even amplify the Author's voice better than even the Author could.
No editor can really fix a seriously inconsistent Você. If the draft doesn't generally exhibit some baseline consistency, it's essentially irretrievable, noise. That Você must seem eminently trustable, even wise, for it serves as the reader's eyes into the work's content. Even the content's much less important than the Você's consistency. So while our budding Author might appear to be blithely correcting his draft's grammar, he's engaged in much more difficult work. I attempt to float through each separate piece, watchful for blockages, words or phrases complicating my passage. I want a free fall right through the center to the end, unencumbered by distraction or garnish. Yes, I am ensuring my tenses seem right, but also considering the overall Thunk! of the piece. Does it impart any impact or just pass like some ship shrouded in fog. I want my Você to sparkle.

This Second Station Of The Authoring Cross can be exhausting. It's not anything anyone might expect themselves to engage in for very many contiguous hours. For me, an hour or two approaches my limit because by then, my brain has had it with the requisite judging and juggling. My buffer's rubbed raw from the effort and I'm cranky. I will begin to see only irretrievable error in the manuscript and consume myself making ungenerous comparisons, a sure and certain sign that I need to go do something else, anything but Você Proofing. Você serves as the presence, the book's persona, the reader's Virgil. Wise counsellor or village idiot, the reader must come to anticipate it without it disappointing. Attractive if innocuous, readily recognized as one of us, it serves as perhaps the sole essential element of any book, its soul, its confidant. It's the one whispering in the reader's ear echoing the Author's actual intent. Whatever the storyline, whatever the plot, it accomplishes nothing without that certain aplomb. Where that comes from seems more a matter of instinct than training, but what could I know? I'm just a budding Author, and might well always be.

Você serves as another subtlety I hadn't seen until I delved more deeply into the Authoring craft. It's like sheen or finish, not terribly important at the essay level, but critical if one expects anyone to invest hours of focus upon their product. I want to more than entice my reader to start, but to encourage them to warmly anticipate returning, to regret having to put down the book because that disrupts the connection. I want the reader to be plotting when they can return to continue the adventure. I want them to find a special place to shelve the book after, because it confided something terribly special. What that was might not be obvious, but those of us on the creating side of the equation, recognize Você when it finds us. Notice the next time you're plowing through one of those gumshoe novels that just seem to read themselves and slip down like ambrosia. That's Você working and it's absolute magic, complements of Authoring's Second Station of the Cross.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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